Viral post falsely links former Lehman Brothers executive to SVB collapse

A post claims a former Lehman Brothers executive was also a top executive at Silicon Valley Bank. He’s part of SVB Securities, which is independent of the bank.

Silicon Valley Bank collapsed on March 10, when the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation took possession of the bank and handed it over to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Over the weekend, social media posts viewed nearly 10 million times between them linked a man named Joseph Gentile to the collapse of both Silicon Valley Bank and Lehman Brothers, a bank that collapsed in 2008 and precipitated a series of financial disasters that led to the Great Recession.

“This is truly unusual,” one of the tweets reads. “Meet Joseph Gentile. He was the Chief Administrative Officer at Silicon Valley Bank. Prior to joining the firm in 2007, he served as the CFO for Lehman Brothers’ Global Investment Bank.”

THE QUESTION

Did a former Lehman Brothers executive also work for Silicon Valley Bank?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, a former Lehman Brothers executive did not work for Silicon Valley Bank. He works for SVB Securities, which is independent of Silicon Valley Bank.

WHAT WE FOUND

Joseph Gentile, the subject of the viral tweets, is currently the Chief Administrative Officer at SVB Securities, which is an investment firm. SVB Securities is a subsidiary of Silicon Valley Bank’s former parent company that is financially independent from the collapsed bank. He had previously been the CFO of a division within the greater Lehman Brothers’ bank and left about a year and a half before the bank filed for bankruptcy.

A 2022 filing made by Silicon Valley Bank to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) described SVB Financial as the parent company of Silicon Valley Bank. This parent company also owns an investment bank, SVB Securities, and a funds management business, SVB Capital, according to the filing.

Even though they’re owned by the same company, SVB Securities is financially independent from Silicon Valley Bank. That means it’s possible one can fail at the same time the other does not.

On March 11, SVB Securities announced that Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse “will not directly impact” its business operations, “which continue uninterrupted under the management of SVB Securities leadership team.”

“Since its acquisition in January 2019 by SVB Financial Group, the parent of Silicon Valley Bank, SVB Securities has maintained its financial and operational independence and has operated largely autonomously as a standalone subsidiary,” SVB Securities said. “The firm has a strong client base and solid financial position, with a healthy balance sheet, significant excess net regulatory capital, and no outstanding debt.”

In a March 13 press release, SVB Financial Group reiterated that SVB Securities and another one of its businesses, SVB Capital, “are separate divisions of SVBFG and not part of Silicon Valley Bank.” These separate divisions are not responsible for the debt held by SVB Financial, which is “exploring potential transactions” for the two companies.

The Silicon Valley Bank website does not list Gentile or a CAO in general among Silicon Valley Bank’s executives. Daniel Beck is listed as the bank’s CFO. 

Previously, Gentile was the Chief Financial Officer of Lehman Brothers’ Fixed Income Division, or FID. He was not the CFO of the entire Lehman Brothers bank. He left his position at Lehman Brothers and joined the company that would become SVB Financial in May 2007, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerReport. Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in September 2008.

A SVB Securities press release directly addressing the viral tweets' claims explained that Gentile worked at Lehman Brothers "for a short six-month time span" in a role that was "two levels below the Chief Financial Officer of the firm."

"It is unfortunate that his 6-month stint at Lehman Brothers as the CFO of their Fixed Income Division, is in some way, shape or form, being connected to the unfortunate events that have occurred at Silicon Valley Bank, of which Joe is not and was never an executive," the press release said.

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